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R-22 Refrigerant Update

In the past couple of years, some Orlando area residential customers have felt in their pocketbook the impact of the Clean Air Act of 1990 and the federal government’s move to phase out the manufacture and importation of virgin R-22 refrigerant, the standard refrigerant used in air conditioners and heat pumps in the 20 years since the Clean Air Act of 1990.  On January 1, 2010, a ban was placed on the production, sale, and importation of new systems that use R-22 refrigerant or blends containing R-22 refrigerant.  After the January 1, 2010 ban, R-22 refrigerant can only be used in the service and repair of existing equipment.  Each year after the 2010 ban the EPA informs manufacturers and importers of virgin R-22 the allowances that can be produced or imported.  Last month, the EPA informed manufacturers and importers of virgin R-22 refrigerant that the total allowance for production and consumption is 39 million pounds for 2013.  This is a little more than a third of the 2010 total allowance for production and consumption of virgin R-22, which was 110 million pounds.  As a result, this year will mark the first time that production and consumption limits will not meet market demand for R-22 refrigerant. 

What this means is customers can expect to pay much higher prices to charge their R-22 air conditioner or heat pump systems from years past.  Also market conditions may make it difficult to source virgin R-22 refrigerant during the summer months.  The higher cost of virgin R-22 refrigerant has opened the market to alternatives such as upgrading the system to R-410a refrigerant, sourcing recycled R-22 refrigerant, or using other refrigerant blends that mimic the characteristics of R-22.

If your air conditioner or heat pump system was installed prior to January 1, 2010, let us know if Atlas Air Conditioning Services can answer any questions you have regarding R-22 refrigerant.  For more information please see the following letter from the EPA and article in the Air Conditioning Heating Refrigeration News.

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